Even though we live in a soon to be exclusive digital world, handmade greeting cards still hold a high sentimental value. There is still a market for it. If you enjoy creating handmade cards, there is nothing holding you back from selling your designs and creations online and making money in the meantime.
Know your market
Before starting any type of online business, you have to make sure there is a market for it. If there is a market for it, you will be able to sell and make money.
If you’re creating handmade greeting cards that are specific to a national holiday, you may find it difficult to have buyers from other countries.
There are different types of greeting cards and you can’t obviously create every single type out there. Find your greeting card niche and excel at it. No need to spread yourself too thin.
Some questions you can ask yourself to help you define your market:
- Who is most likely to buy my greeting cards? What is that person’s profile when it comes to gender, relationship status, age etc…
- Are my products location based? Will people from all over the world buy them?
- Are they holiday based? Are these holidays celebrated by specific groups of people alone?
- Are my products seasonal?
- Are they occasion based? Are they cads sent to celebrate a birth, marriage, retirement, death or even a divorce?
- Will they be custom based depending on the client? Will I be able to offer customization options?
Part of studying your market is also learning about your competition. Look at other shops that sell items similar to yours and learn from their numbers if they have them available. No need to become a copycat of theirs but get inspired to see if these items are selling and if not, what the reasons are. It could be that the products aren’t of good quality or that maybe that specific greeting card doesn’t have as many buyers as needed.
You need an online store
It is almost impossible and very difficult to sell anything online without having a store. With all the various options to sell handmade items online, you are sure to find one that suits your needs. Besides creating your own online store, list yourself on Etsy, Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces where you can show your work. Keep in mind that if you list on multiple platforms, you need to constantly update your inventory whenever it changes. Otherwise, you may end up with more orders than you can handle.
The only exception to having a store would be if you were doing a cash on delivery service. In that case, you can create a social media profile and list your items. However, that would be limiting you from reaching your full potential.
Pictures of your products have to reflect the uniqueness of your creations in order to attract people. You have to stand out from the crowd and try to prove to people why they should go with your cards instead of someone else’s.
When people start buying from you, ask for their permission to collect their email addresses then remind them to write a review. Follow up with your customers to make sure your product matched their expectations. Collecting good reviews can be difficult at first for a new store but can largely help drive up your sales.
Think offline to online
Some people won’t remember they need a greeting card until they see one. Find out when a craft fair will be held near your home and be part of it. Print out business cards that contain a link to your online store and hand them out to everyone who stops by your stand! Even if they don’t buy a card there and then, they might remember you at a later stage and visit your website. If they do buy a card, ask them nicely to head to your store and leave a review there.
If you can’t afford renting your own space at a craft fairs, you can find someone to collaborate with and maybe share the expenses. Start with people who will have products that would perfectly go hand in hand with a greeting card such as toys or gifts. You can also strike a deal and provide them with some items they could display in their actual stores, maybe ask them if they could give your business card with every card purchase.
Get as much exposure as you possibly can when you first get started and make sure people learn about your online store. It always takes a while to build up a new following at first but you can make it happen by proactively working on it. Just because you want to go the online route, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of your surroundings to get started.
Don’t forget Social Media
Social media presence for online stores is turning into a must. Instagram and Pinterest in particular are great for picture oriented posts. Once you have a good set of pictures for your store, you can reuse them and create Instagram posts or Pins on Pinterest in order to have your work reach the largest possible number of people.
Think of what makes your items unique and place the emphasis on that. The more original your items are, the more they will be shared and the more people will see them. Social media will definitely help you increase your sales so don’t ignore it and stay active there. Competition is huge in all crafts businesses. If you don’t stand out with a unique concept, you may get lost in the noise of the online marketplaces and social media. Just because you’re creating the same product as hundreds of others doesn’t mean everyone will take their card out for you.
It wouldn’t hurt either to invest in some advertisement money, especially when you’re a new store with a small number of visitors. If you do choose to advertise, don’t forget to customize your audience. Ads spent on promoting a Happy Anniversary card to kids under 18 would be a waste of money. As discussed earlier, know your market and understand your audience well!
Offer extra services!
And charge for them! With people traveling all around the world you can offer the buyer the opportunity to ship the card directly to the person they’re buying it for. Don’t forget that shipping varies by location so add up that cost to your buyer’s invoice.
If you’re good at calligraphy for example or know someone who is, you can collaborate with them to add that written special message your client asked for. Adding that beautifully written custom message will add to your profit margin as it’s an extra charge.
Think of all the possible additional services you can offer your client and charge accordingly and appropriately. You can maybe give them the ability to choose different colors, a different message, a larger size of card, the option to add a picture and so on. Depending on what you create, the more customization options you offer, the harder the work would be but your client will be satisfied and will gladly pay you enough for it.
There are numbers involved!
Evaluate the time you need to create a greeting card, how much would it cost to create and ship one before deciding how much to price your item. Don’t forget to include our time. People know handmade and custom made items would cost more so don’t be afraid to make a profit!
Make sure you don’t take more orders than you can handle or that you run out of material on a deadline. Keep in mind that creating a few greeting cards for your friends and family is different than having to do it full time. Think of the next step and whether you might hire people to help you create those cards if you grow too big. The more satisfied customers you have, the better your chances of making it so don’t lower your quality just to keep up or to reduce your costs.
Keep track of the money you invest and the money you make. Get an inventory and/or accounting software if you don’t believe you can keep track of everything without them. Ask your local tax accountant whether you have to declare your sales or not and add all those overhead costs. In the long run, those costs may eat up at your profit and at your income.
Yes! You can definitely sell your handmade cards online, just like any other type of crafts or handmade items. As long as you make sure your product has a market, is unique and original and that you get yourself out there, you can launch a successful business.
So don’t be afraid of getting out there and focus on how you can stand up from the competition with your unique creations. There is a marketplace for everything, you just have to plough through it. It may not happen overnight, but that is the case for every type of new business. Stay consistent with your quality, be patient and you will definitely be rewarded.